Detroit Golf Club's old style appeals to Nick Faldo

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — Nick Faldo has played golf all over the world, and while he doesn't have any particular distinct memories of Michigan, he is excited for a new stop on the PGA Tour schedule. And he thinks the players are, too.

It's tough to get an opening on the PGA Tour, so things can seem a little like "Groundhog Day" for PGA Tour pros after a while.

Nick Faldo

This season, there are two new steps, in Detroit this week and Minneapolis next week.

"You know, life on the Tour is sometimes not as glamorous as people think," Faldo said over the phone Wednesday, ahead of his arrival in Detroit in the evening. "It's the same hotels, you're looking at to the same parking lots and freeways, and it gets a little old. They're looking forward to going to Detroit. I know I am.

"Hopefully, we'll get to see some sights."

Faldo, 61, a world Golf Hall-of-Famer and owner of six major championships (three Masters, three British Opens), is in his 14th year as an analyst for CBS' golf coverage. He will be on the air Thursday and Friday, alongside Ann Arbor's own Mike Tirico, and then on CBS for the final two rounds Saturday and Sunday. Jim Nantz will anchor the coverage on Saturday and Sunday.

He hadn't seen the Detroit Golf Club layout as of midday Wednesday, but he planned to walk it before the sun comes out Thursday — and before the first tee shots flies in the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic.

He's heard all about it, though, particularly its old-style roots, which brings him back to his playing days, from the mid-1970s into the early 2000s.

"I kind of like it," Faldo said. "Cuz its old, classic greens can be quite difficult, there's a certain style to play the hole. I think the players enjoy that."

And, so, it's not all about power. For a nice change of pace.

"That's the beauty of golf," Faldo said. "We do have a variety."

Faldo has his favorites for the week. All the typical names. But asked for some under-the-radar picks, he likes Joaquin Niemann, who tied for fifth at last week's Travelers Championship, as well as the two newly minted pros — Viktor Hovald and Matthew Wolff, whom Faldo calls, "Mr. Wolff." The British, so proper.

And then, Faldo said, "And we'll see what the new U.S. Open champion will do."

This is Gary Woodland's first tournament since winning his first major two weeks ago at Pebble Beach. Faldo won his first major, the British Open, in 1987.

"I know from my experience, after that, I literally, every step I took when I walked the golf course, I'd say, 'Open champion,' 'Open champion,' 'Open champion,'" Faldo said with a laugh, suggesting sometimes you're a bit distracted in the aftermath of such a huge victory. "For about a month, I really did.

"So I'll give him a grace (period) for a bit of time."

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One thing Faldo doesn't have as much patience with, these days, is the increasingly rowdy galleries at PGA Tour tournaments.

He didn't see a ton of that during his professional playing career — which included four stops in Michigan, for the Buick Open in 1991 (tied for sixth), 1994 (tied for 11th) and 1995 (tied for 57th), and the 1996 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills (tied for 16th).

Yes, there were raucous holes, like No. 17 in Grand Blanc, while he was traveling the world hunting for trophies and checks — he won 30 times on the European Tour (fifth all-time) and nine more times on the PGA Tour — but the golf fan of yesteryear seemed to be just a bit more respectful than the baba-booeys and the you're-the-mans of today's cell-phone and selfie-obsessed galleries. So Faldo is intrigued to see how things play out at Nos. 14-16, especially the par-3 15th, at Detroit Golf Club.

"I think we should keep our comments to, 'Fine shot, good man, old chap,'" he said with perhaps a trace of sarcasm. "It's all good fun, but some of the comments I've heard, you'd better be careful. These guys are big, strong athletes.

"You don't want to get a little smack across the ankles with a 3-iron."

Golf Channel's coverage of the Rocket Mortgage Classic is from 3-6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 1-2:45 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with CBS getting the bulk of the final rounds from 3-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984